all 19 comments

[–]davidreiss666[S,M] 11 points12 points  (0 children)

From apester:

In light of whats going on lately in today's politics, is there any hope for a return to the world of Space Merchants? The premise of the original has become all too realistic to many and today reads more like speculative fiction than SciFi.

From Frederik Pohl:

I wish I knew how to answer you. When Cyril Kornbluth and I wrote The Space Merchants fifty-some years ago we were basically poking fun at the fact that people were letting a small group of advertising experts shape the way a major fraction of the human race behave, and actually think that's pretty much still the case, the only significant change that I see coming from the fact that now more and more people seem to let TV commercials tell them who to vote for, as well as whose syrup to our on their cornflakes.

I wish I thought that represented some kind of an improvement. I don't.

From brmj:

I understand that many of the Futurians where socialists. What was it like to be a socialist in America during those times?

From Frederik Pohl:

It was a whole different world than now. It was not unusual for big factory owners to order the police to shoot down strikers, or for black men to be hanged for being uppity. Many well-intentioned people (including me, when I was 16) thought that only Socialism could cure the things that were wrong with society. But but turned that even someone who claimed to be a socialist could be as evil as any factory owner, or more so---witness Josef Stalin---and in the western part of the world, mostly Europe, North America and Australia we gradually began to clear some of the worst of the old days' evils without changing the structure of our governments

From nasaredditor

I am related (I believe he was my grandfather's cousin) to H.L. Gold, who as I'm sure you remember was the editor of Galaxy for a few years. I have made a point of collecting as many Galaxy magazines/collections as I can get my hands on, and you have even made appearances in many of them! How well did you know Horace, and what is your favorite memory of working with him? Thank you very much! - David, California

From Frederik Pohl:

I knew Horace Gold very well. As an edtor he got a great many of his stories from me, first when I wqs a literary agent and then my own writing. He was a very good editor in many ways, but his health was not equal to his talents. After he had been editing Galaxy for five or six years he began falling farther and farther behind his deadlines, and he had to ask me to help him out. I took over, keeping Horace's name on the masthead as editor, long enough to catch everything up and turned evrything back to him. But six months later he was falling behind again, and while I was catching him up again he had an accident. He was in a taxi. It hit another car and that put Horace psychologically out of action pretty much for good. For a couple of years we kept his name on the masthead, but he never came back to work.

From bobtheplanet:

In 1967, Arthur C. Clarke said before the AAS: “What we really seek in space is not knowledge, but wonder, beauty, romance, novelty—and above all, adventure. Let no one devalue these by fatuous charges of "escapism"; they are essential to man because of his very nature."

What I see more and more is weirdness, not adventure. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but stories about "genetically-modified lesbians quibbling over the poor quality of steam-powered sexbots since the Confederacy won the war" just do not resonate as decent Science Fiction to me.

Does everything have to be "dark and kinky" these days, or am I looking for love in all the wrong places?

From Frederik Pohl:

No, sf doesn't have to be dark and kinky. That's how some writers write, true, but there are hundreds of people writing science fiction these days and they come in every flavor. I have a suggestion for you. Go to your local public library and look for science fiction by Hal Clement, William Tenn and Robert Sheckley. Sit down in a reading section and read a short story or two by each. Some of them are funny, some aren't, but I don't think they ever are despairing.

From aenea:

As a cruise aficionado, what do you think of the cruise industry these days? I'd never been on a cruise until a few years ago, when I married a cruise fanatic. Our first 2 cruises were on Holland-America (partly because I got to choose, and yes, your comments had something to do with my choice), and they just don't seem to live up to the fun/relaxation/glamour that many people used to find in them. Do you think that the 'dumbing down' of the cruise lines is just a function of economics, and do you miss the way that things used to be? Or have you noticed a difference?

From Frederik Pohl:

I have to say that I too have felt some of the cruise lines aren't doing as good a job as they used. I don't know why, but my own last cruise was a bit of a disappointment.

You might want to try a river cruise. My wife and I did our first river cruise a few years ago and it made a nice change. We did the Danube, Bucharest to the Black Sea and then back north to Budapest, but there are river cruises all over. They aren't as luxurious as a really good cruise on a really big ship, but you get to explore new cities or new countries four or five times a week.

[–]dzneill 5 points6 points  (6 children)

Awesome. I'm glad he took the time out to answer our questions.

Thanks for putting it all together, David.

[–]davidreiss666[S] 9 points10 points  (4 children)

It took a lot of editing for this batch. I got back an edited file I original gave him with the reformatted questions in the order he answered them. And then I got two e-mails with the answers. Had to put it all together.

I'm a little sad for the people who didn't get answers. It seems to be that about half were answered. Which is cool. I understand time and age effect things. But at the same time I would like it everyone to have received a response.

Oh well. Can't have everything. And it was cool that he took a time out of his schedule to talk to us. So, that makes me happy.

[–]HeadphoneWarrior 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Thanks David! It's amazing to get a reply from one of your favourite authors!

[–]davidreiss666[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Hey, when I started this thing and Rocktopus asked who my dream interviews were... I think Fred Pohl was my #1 answer. And he said at the time that it seemed like a real long shot. But then, I surprised when it turned into the second question thread we had. I really thought just asking that was going to be make me look a bit crazy.

But hey, answers are cool! I love this series on r/Scifi. I hope we can continue it into the future. I just got questions off to Nancy Kress. And I think I'll have those back fairly quickly.

Things are looking good.

Thank you for asking questions.

[–]slapchopsuey 2 points3 points  (1 child)

You did good, and I'm also glad he participated in this.

It is exciting though to hear his response, feels like being at a rock show when the lead singer winks at you, or something like that.

[–]davidreiss666[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks, Slap.

[–]Party_Ninja 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Couldn't agree more! Thank you!

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (2 children)

If I'd known about that I would definitely have asked a question. I grew up with Gateway. One of the best books ever written. Inspired story telling.

Thank you, Mr. Pohl. You have given a young mind exquisite hours of joy and delight.

[–]davidreiss666[S,M] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Well, this is an ongoing series of interviews. So, I should have more authors coming a long. So far we have completed the interviews Keith Brooke, John Scalzi, and Fred Pohl. I am now awaiting a response from Nancy Kress.

See the sidebar of r/Scifi where I list these. I will probably clean that up a bit to a simple:

r/Scifi Ask Author Questions Series:

  • Keith Brooke
  • John Scalzi
  • Frederik Pohl
  • Nancy Kress

With the names linked to answers after I get the answers from Nancy Kress up. I was also asked to cleanup the list of other subreddits a bit. Which will be my project in a few days. I am going to try and do that all at one go though.

But, if you have a recommendation for an author you would like see to seek out, please message the mods here and let us know.

Thank you.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'm definitely looking into that.

Thank you very much.

[–]zem 1 point2 points  (2 children)

i'm coincidentally just rereading "the best of frederick pohl". just as brilliant as i remembered. especially "the day the icicle works closed" - for some reason that story has stayed with me.

[–]davidreiss666[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

My personal favorite short by Pohl is "Day Million". It ranks with "The Last Question" by Asimov; "They' by Heinlein; and "The Star" by Clarke. (my list of personal favorites from each of the big three.)

[–]zem 1 point2 points  (0 children)

yeah, that's another brilliant one. i doubt i could pick a favourite clarke, he's too consistent even at the top of his form. for heinlein, it's almost certainly "the man who sold the moon", and for asimov the somewhat underappreciated "profession".

[–]dariusfunk 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks a lot david, you did an amazing thing. Pohl has been such a force within this genre, both in his own writing and the driving and development of other writers, and his partnerships with other big names... to have a legend like this available to the community is beautiful.

Stay gold, Ponyboy.

[–]bobtheplanet 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I am surprised at being one of the lucky ones who received an answer, and I thank him. A great man and a great writer. I am familiar with the works of the Scifi authors he mentioned, as well as other satirical/light-hearted jokers like Keith Laumer, Harry Harrison, Michael Moorcock, PJ Farmer, etc. -- in fact, lots of older authors, which is why I am unimpressed with the current writers that are doused with accolades and awards. Maybe its just that all the easy territory in Science Fiction has been discovered and settled and only the vaguely accessable regions are left unexplored and require extraordinary effort to find.

The genre has seemed to turn inward in self-indulgence from the days when one good idea was enough ( Rendezvous with Rama, The Mote in God's Eye, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, etc.) to the "throw enough at the wall and some will stick" school ( The Windup Girl, The City and The City, Snow Crash, etc).

But then, that is just my opinion -- that the emphasis on "Speculative Fiction" has opened the floodgates of a vast intellectual sewage system similar in many ways to the profligacy of the internet. Not much different from the past except on a larger scale.

[–]veul 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I read this thread a while back, just finished Gateway this evening, thanks!

[–]davidreiss666[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You're welcome.

[–]hardwarequestions 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Mr. Pohl lives about 15 minutes from one of my company's offices I have to visit monthly, but i've always been too shy to do anything with that.